Penelope Thompson - Performance Art

photos of Penelope Thompson performance art, 2005-2006
Penelope Thompson is an Australian contemporary artist whose work includes performance art, outdoor and indoor installation art, and interactive community art events.

What is performance art?

Performance art can be most simply defined as art that involves the physical presence of the artist. As such, performance art is ephemeral, lasting only a few minutes, hours or sometimes days. It is often seen only by a small audience and the work may also be photographed or filmed. Performance art can have a very direct and personal effect on the viewer as the emotion and effort of the artist during the creation of the work can be closely and directly observed, such as in Penelope's performance of 'The Elements' in 2006. In this outdoor performance the audience could watch the artist create art with the four elements - fire, earth, water and air. In contrast, 'The Beauty Myth' 2005 was an indoor performance where the artist used her own body as a sculptural form.

Why performance art?

Artists choose to work in performance for many reasons - sometimes it seems to be the most direct and powerful way of expressing a concept or idea. Penelope's performance in Korea of 'The Beauty Myth' was a response to her observation of societal pressures on Korean women to conform to an ideal of passive beauty and dependence. After initially planning a photographic and installation work on the theme, the artist felt that her physical presence in a performance would have the most impact.

Many visual artists start out in more traditional art styles such as painting, or sculpture but move into performance art as a reaction to the excessive commodification of art objects. Performance art is seen as part of a very modern trend of conceptual contemporary art that is strange and difficult to understand, but it is actually closely related to ancient and traditional ritual performance and symbolism found across all cultures.

Difference between 'performance art' and 'performing arts'?

Often viewers are confused about the difference between 'the performing arts' and 'performance art'. The term 'performing arts' refers to creative human expression such as theatre, dance, and music - usually produced as entertainment. Performers in these fields are generally highly trained in their particular skills such as a ballet dancer or an opera singer. photo of Penelope Thompson singing jazzIn fact, Penelope Thompson is a trained singer and sometimes performs vocal jazz, (see photo) but this is a different activity to her 'performance art'.

So we have to think of 'performance art' as a kind of visual art event created by visual artists. Performance art may involve an artist manipulating visual elements such as light, colour, and form, and even using music, acting and dance, but the intention is not entertainment but the rather the expression of an artistic concept. The boundaries between 'performing arts' and 'performance art' are not strict, and in the end it comes down to whether the performer has a background in visual art and considers himself or herself to be a visual artist.

posted 14/05/2007 by Penelope Thompson

Some of Penelope's recent performance art events

posted 13/08/2009 by Penelope Thompson

For more information or to contact the Artist

You are welcome to contact the artist via email with questions about her work. For her current location details and a list of her previous exhibitions see Penelope's Artist's Biography and CV. For more information about specific art projects see the navigation menu at the right to go to particular Performance art projects such as
'The Elements' , or 'The Beauty Myth' , or to see Installation art , and Community art projects.
posted 13/08/2009 by Penelope Thompson
Beauty? What is that? - Beauty in itself is nothing. Andy Warhol.